Back Behind The Grill
By Paul Morrone CFP®, CPA, MSA
After months of setting off the fire alarm or making a mess of the kitchen trying to cook on the stovetop, its finally time to make use of the grill again. I wouldn’t say it’s entirely a reflection on my skill as a chef, but cooking inside with the windows closed can certainly create some unwanted smoke, smells or mess that could be easily avoided by cooking outside. Now, at least for the next couple of months, I don’t have to worry about the house smelling like blackened chicken, or worse, pan seared salmon. Those smells seem to linger for days, even with the help of candles, air fresheners and a thorough cleaning.
While I have many friends who will brave the bitter temperatures in the darkness of winter to cook on the grill, I’m more content making a meatloaf or pot roast and enjoying that warm heavy meal without having to deal with the sub-zero temperatures. I definitely have a seasonal palate and have fully embraced the winter comfort foods, crock pot meals or roasts during the colder months. However, at the first sight of a warm evening, I’m ready to get back behind the grill. Fish, meat or even vegetables just seem to come out better with a little char on them, which can’t be quite replicated using the oven or stove.
When I first bought the grill, I went back and forth with myself whether it was worth the extra $100 to have a side-burner. After 5 years I can wholeheartedly say that it was. For one, I have an electric cooktop inside, so this is really my only gas-cooking option, and for those of you who have used both you definitely understand the benefits of having a gas cooktop. It gives the flexibility to prepare a full meal outside, rather than having to worry about running in and out making sure that whatever is on the stove or grill isn’t simultaneously burning. It also makes pan searing fish much easier and less smelly than it would be indoors. I had heard mixed reviews from folks about the side burner, but let me tell you it has been a Godsend.
It’s not just that I enjoy the taste of food prepared on the grill either, the convenience and ease of the cleanup makes it an even more attractive option. Cleaning up is often the worst part of cooking because you just want the process to be over. I find myself prematurely getting up from dinner with food still on my plate because I’m staring at a pile of dishes in the sick and can’t stand the thought of them all just sitting there, staring back at me. With the grill, it’s a quick brush of the grates, turn it off, let it cool and cover it. Done and done!